Thursday, November 12, 2015

Looking Towards Winter Term

I registered for my classes Tuesday night. I'm pretty excited I get to finally take some biology again, although I'm worried this may be a more chemistry-heavy part of biology, which has never been my favorite. (Also the labs are four hours long; that's a really long time!) I also registered for the second term of French with my same professor. My third class is Literature of the American South, which is a Writing Rich course; it should be interesting reading and discussion, but I hope the writing part doesn't murder me. All of the new professors seem to have a good track record based on other students' experiences.
I'll be working in Mail Services next term instead of the Post Office. There is a possibility that the two may be combined once we get to Spring Term. For now, though, I've heard that Mail Services is a good opportunity to work on homework. I may need it; I'll have a Writing Rich course and a lab course in the same term.
We still haven't seen any legitimate snow yet, but they are already beginning to setup the ice skating rinks on The Bald Spot. We probably won't see those actually functional until Winter Term.
Now I just have to make it through the rest of ninth week and tenth week, and then I get to go home for Winter Break (and SeaBase)!

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Happy Halloween!

Well, it's been a long time since I've posted anything, and today is Halloween, so I thought I'd share one of my personal weird fears.
Whenever it's rained really hard and the sidewalks are still all wet, worms like to come out and wriggle about on the sidewalk. I don't really have a problem with worms or with them wriggling about--that's generally just what they do. However, when they lie on the sidewalks en masse and flail about it really disturbs me.
They just blend in with little sticks and other debris and you're about to take a step and it moves and it's a worm and you don't want to step on it. I just don't really want to step on a live worm--it doesn't seem like it would be a pleasant experience for anyone involved. I don't really want to step on a dead worm either; that's just gross.
Mainly it's just the fact that there are large amounts of worms everywhere and they're hiding and I don't want to step on them, which makes it difficult to walk down a sidewalk like a normal person.
Happy Halloween everyone!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Classes Begin

Well, I'm all moved in at school. Today was the first day of classes after a long few days of orientation sessions. This trimester, I'm taking FREN101: Elementary French, MATH121: Calculus II, and PHIL100: Family Values-- The Ethics of Parent-Child Relationships.
I got to meet all my professors and have my first class meetings today. Tomorrow I will begin my work-study job at the Post Office. I already have my hands full of homework and textbooks.
Friday will be the activity fair, and I'm excited to sign up for a few extracurriculars, especially CANOE (Carleton Association of Nature and Outdoor Enthusiasts) and the Quizbowl team.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Philmont Scout Ranch Staff 2015, Update #7

Any images, information, and opinions expressed on this site are neither approved or authorized by the Boy Scouts of America and/or Philmont Scout Ranch.

On days off, I went with some friends and caught both the Ponil cantina show and the Rich Cabins campfire. Both were very good-- Ponil's show has a strong storyline and slightly more modern music than is generally used at a lot of the backcountry camps. Rich Cabins' show included yodeling, fantastic story-telling, and talented musicians.

My final backcountry assignment was to visit the two most remote camps on the ranch: Black Mountain and Crooked Creek. These are the only two camps that have no direct road access.

We were dropped off at the Black Mountain drop-off point, and hiked down the steep staff trail. The camp and surrounding areas are beautiful, and vaguely jungle-like. The staff members carry all of their supplies up and down the staff trail to and from the drop-off point. The cabin they live in is historic, but it's pretty cool-- five of them all live there, and it's just exactly enough space to fit bunks on one side and a wood-burning stove and table on the other side. The cabinets are designed to fold down and create counter space when needed. The program is black powder rifles and blacksmithing. The five camps with forges are definitely worth visiting-- it's a pretty cool program. One of the staff members at Black is planning to start a business blacksmithing. We spent the night here.

The next day, we hiked from Black Mountain to Phillips Junction to Crooked Creek. Crooked Creek has two burros they use to carry their supplies from Phillips Junction. They are a homesteading camp with a cow and a calf, burros, chickens, and goats. We spent the night here, and planned to hike to Phillips Junction for a ride out in the morning.

However, due to heavy rains that night, all backcountry rides were cancelled for the day. We hiked to Phillips Junction and then had to decide what to do from there. We decided we would hike out-- there was no guarantee of when backcountry roads would be open again. We hiked down to Fish Camp, through Webster Pass, then Fowler Pass, and stopped at Crater Lake. We hiked on from Crater Lake to the Lovers Leap Turnaround, where we hoped to call someone and get a ride out. We were nearly at the turnaround when we met Rod Taylor on the road. He picked us up and drove us the last few miles back to Basecamp. We were very thankful.

The hiking was actually really pleasant, but the afternoon rain shower was very heavy and we had hiked some extremely muddy roads and trails that looked a lot more like rivers. It was a longer day than we had expected it to be, but we got to see more of the Ranch.

Today is my last working day. It's been an awesome summer and I'm definitely going to apply to be out here next year. Staffing is a completely different experience from a trek, and you get to see a lot more of Philmont from a very different perspective.

However, it's also been a long summer and I am extremely ready to head home and work on preparing the Venturing crew for a new year and preparing myself for college before move-in day.

Edit: See PhilNews Issue 9 here.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Philmont Scout Ranch Staff 2015, Update #6

Any images, information, and opinions expressed on this site are neither approved nor authorized by the Boy Scouts of America and/or Philmont Scout Ranch.

The previous week we worked on the flood issue. I spent most of the week working on the first two parts of the main article, researching the science behind flash flooding and the Rayado Flood of 1965. That issue is out in print today.

Last Sunday I hiked Wheeler with six others from my department. That was a pretty challenging hike, but now I've climbed the tallest mountain in New Mexico, 13,159 feet above sea level. The view was pretty nice, and we ate watermelon at the top.

This week I was in the backcountry on assignment. We started at Harlan and then hiked to Ute Gulch. After dinner there, we hiked to Cimarroncito for the night and then after a few pictures in the morning, hiked to the Cito Turnaround just barely in time to catch the bus.

Harlan's program is 12-gauge shotgun shooting and reloading. Ute Gulch is another commissary camp like Phillips Junction that I would consider working at next year, but I'm not sure which I liked better. Cimarroncito is a climbing camp, and also has a really cool bouldering gym, where we spent the night.

After making it back to base, I went back out to the Cito Turnaround with another photographer to spend the night and next morning at Clarks Fork, one of the Western lore camps. The Clarks Fork campfire area has a view of Cimarron's city lights, and the camp also has hot water, showers, electricity, and possible cell phone reception.

I'm not sure, but I might try to make it to Ponil's cantina show, which is supposed to be exceptionally good this year, and maybe Rich Cabins as well.

Next week I will be in the backcountry on assignment again. I believe the plan is to start as close as possible to Black Mountain, hike in to the camp and spend the night there. Next day, we would hike to Crooked Creek and spend the majority of the day there. Then we could hike to Phillips Junction and spend the night there to be sure to get a ride out in the morning. Black Mountain and Crooked Creek are the only two staffed camps that do not have direct access by backcountry road.

Edit: Read Issue 8 here.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Philmont Scout Ranch Staff 2015, Update #5 - Visiting the Backcountry

Any images, information, and opinions expressed on this site are neither approved nor authorized by the Boy Scouts of America and/or Philmont Scout Ranch.

Well, last week was my first week to go into the backcountry on assignment, which was exciting.

We started out at Apache Springs, and then hiked to Fish Camp and spent the night there. Fish Camp has a beautiful valley and a lot of water, and the staff there have a cat, Bagheera, as well as lots of extremely nice cabins. I slept on either Waite or Genevieve Phillips' bed that night-- I just don't know which one. The mattress was nicer than a foamie in Base Camp, either way.

The next day we hiked up to Phillips Junction, which only took an hour, and we had perfect timing to switch photographers. It felt like not much was going on, and I wasn't sure how I was going to write an article about the camp.

Anyway, we continued to Beaubien that night and they have a very nice camp with a lot of activities and a beautiful meadow. Roping seems to be the participant's favorite, and we also got to see their campfire. It seems that sleeping on two foamies is standard in the backcountry.

The next day we hiked back to Phillips Junction and spent most of the day there waiting for a ride, but I got a lot of good material to write about this time. Several Scouts participated in a pickle challenge, a Rayado crew was conscripted into building a box fort, and crews came by to pick up food and supplies, as well as browse the trading post.

I've decided that PJ is currently top on my list of places I want to work next year, although I'm afraid my options may be limited because I won't be able to arrive until around June 12th or 13th next year. I'm really hoping to be able to drag more people I know into doing this with me next year.

I attended the 4th of July Rodeo for an article, so that was pretty neat. No one was able to stay on the bulls long enough to qualify (8 seconds). Two of the wild horses jumped out of their enclosures. Luckily, no humans or animals were seriously hurt.

This weekend, for days off, we went to spend the night at Crater Lake. The Crater Lake campfire was exceptionally good, and I got to go spar pole climbing at night with no belt. My arms are all scratched up now, but I think it was a pretty good experience for a first time. I'm very afraid of heights, and that spar pole was a lot taller once I was up on it, but at least I made it, even though it felt like an eternity.

This week I am making good progress on my articles. I think Issue #7, we will address the flooding. I'm not sure how much we will be able to put out there, but I'd like to address clean-up efforts and get some of the facts out there about how extreme the damage was, so I'm glad we're going to have the chance to do that.

Next weekend my parents will be visiting, so we will visit Taos and the four Philmont museums.

Edit: Read Issue 5 here.

Philmont Scout Ranch Staff 2015, Update #4 - Flash Flooding

Any images, information, and opinions expressed on this site are neither approved nor authorized by Philmont Scout Ranch and/or the Boy Scouts of America.

Here's the links if you haven't heard:“~/link.aspx?_id=C4971E900D924B83B09ACBA4585D37B8&_z=z

Also, here's how you can help out.
1- Monetary Donations: 
2- Care Packages:
Packages can contain candy, snack foods, thank you notes, encouragement, morale boosting items, etc.
Departments/staffed camps to send to:
Indian Writings
Metcalf Station
Dean Cow
Head of Dean
Rich Cabins
Ranger Department
Philmont Training Center Staff
Backcountry Warehouse

The packages will get out faster if you put the name of Dept and send to Philmont Post Office so put this address:
Philmont Scout Ranch
Attn: [Department] - Flood Relief
47 Caballo Road
Cimarron, NM 87714

Edit: Read Issue 7 (Flood Issue) here.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Philmont Scout Ranch Staff 2015, Update #3

Ladybugs really love the tops of peaks
A fellow I met in Base Camp
Not sure who built this
Any images, information, and opinions expressed on this site are neither approved nor authorized by Philmont Scout Ranch and/or the Boy Scouts of America.

The conservation department acted like they were really happy with their article, which made me glad. It's good to know that someone likes to read what I've been writing. I feel like a lot of the stuff we write is fluffy because there's not a lot going on and when anything major does happen, it's not going to be put in a weekly newspaper.

Sunday we hiked Shaeffer's Peak. It's not a very impressive peak, but it has a nice view, and it was a pleasant hike (especially starting from the Lover's Leap Turnaround instead of Base Camp). Monday we visited the Chase Ranch and Terra Java Books, which sells almost all of the books in the store for $2. At the Chase, we learned a few cool facts, like that the heart brand was bought from the Rich family (of Rich Cabins) for $1 and some valuables, and that only women did the branding. The plans for the Ranch are exciting-- that will be a really cool place in the future.

The upcoming PhilNews is focused on the Order of the Arrow. The issue I'm working on right now focuses on history, in this case, the Museums department. Next week, I will be the backcountry writer and visit PJ, Beaubien, Apache Springs, and Fish Camp. I'm ready to get into the backcountry a little more and actually visit some of the backcountry staffed camps, especially if I want to consider applying for backcountry staff next year.

Edit: Read PhilNews Issue 2 here.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Climbing the Tooth

View of the Tooth from below
Any images, information, and opinions expressed on this site are neither approved nor authorized by Philmont Scout Ranch and/or the Boy Scouts of America.

Well, it's been a long, full week. 

Sunday was Taos Day for the department, which was pretty cool. Resisting the temptation to buy stuff is difficult.

For our days off, the writers get Sunday and Monday. We also get 4, maybe 5, floater days that we can take whenever we choose, as long as we plan ahead to get our work done.

It was pretty exciting to see our first issue in print on Friday. Issue 2 of the PhilNews focuses on conservation, so a lot of my articles printed in the second issue will focus on that.

Benchmark for the Tooth of Time
For our days off, we went to Taos the first day, and had a more individual experience than with a large group. We ate some excellent noodles from a vendor who advertised gluten-free options. We also found a cool bookstore called Moby Dickens with two cats.

The second day, we climbed the Tooth. That took all day.  We had a little trouble finding the correct trail, because it disappears into a 45 minute scramble over rocks, which we thought couldn't be it. Turns out that was it. The views from the top were pretty awesome, and now I can say I've done it. I don't have any particular desire to do it again any time soon. The final climb up is fun, but the Tooth Ridge trail or "Trail of Tears" is extremely long, and the Pasture trail, a staff-only trail, is painfully steep and rocky. Now my entire body is sore and my feet are just a large blister.

The issue I'm working on right now focuses on the Order of the Arrow 100th Anniversary and all the related things going on this year, so it's pretty interesting to write.

Edit: Read PhilNews Issue 3 here.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Philmont Staff 2015, Update #1

Any images, information, and opinions expressed on this site are neither approved nor authorized by Philmont Scout Ranch and/or the Boy Scouts of America.

The participants will arrive soon, June 8, to be specific. Mostly, we've been doing a lot of different staff trainings. The first day is mainly just checking in and completing all those tasks, then there is an all-staff day and lots of other trainings done as a department. June 8th is also when days off begin. I know I will have a 5-2 schedule, but I don't know which two days I will have off.

We will go to Taos tomorrow as a department. That seems like it will be fun, although I don't know what the plan is for that yet.

We have also begun working on the first issue of the PhilNews. The PhilNews should be posted online on Thursdays, beginning June 11, and paper copies are distributed on Fridays. We have to work almost a full week in advance to get everything done on time for the printer, which is a rather strange adjustment to have to make.

I feel like the writing style necessary is distinctly different from what I'm expected to do for a research paper or other formal writing. It doesn't seem too hard to get the hang of, and, so far, my interviews seem to have gone pretty well. Admittedly, the PhilNews is designed to be PR, and the people I've interviewed actually want to talk to me. I think this job will give me a lot of information about many of the different departments and jobs available on the Ranch.

Today, I got to scatter with French Henry. Scatter is when the backcountry staff head out to their camps. It takes three days for all the thirty-six staffed camps to scatter. It was pretty cool, and all the staff are excited to finally get to where they're going to be all summer. French Henry has two staff cabins, a main one and a smaller one, and they have a wood-burning oven. The cabins are not very tightly constructed, so a rat had gotten in over the summer and created a nest. For exactly this reason, all staffed camps have to be "de-hantaed" each year, to prevent any possibility of Hantavirus. The French Henry staff also brought Bruiser, their feline head exterminator, with them in an effort to cut down on the rodent population.

Overall, I'm just extremely ready for the normal schedule to begin. I'm ready to have a little more predictability for my routine.

Edit: Take a look at PhilNews Issue 1 here.

Monday, May 18, 2015

A Goodbye to MSMS

Well, I graduate on Saturday. Mostly, I'm feeling pretty sad about it. I'm leaving behind a whole two years of my life and all the people who were a part of that. I just don't know if college can live up to this.

MSMS and Scouts (both Venturing and Girl Scouting) have been the main influences on my life for the last two years, so college, where these things will not be ever-present, is going to be really strange.

It's amazing to me how I will have friends scattered all over the world so soon. Many of my classmates stay in state, saving money and helping to fulfill the MSMS mission of enriching the state in a more immediate way. I know people going to schools like Yale, Harvard, Cornell, MIT, UC Berkeley, Amherst College, and other schools all over the states. I also have friends who have chosen unique educational opportunities like Deep Springs College or the Minerva Project. A few students even go to college in other countries as well. It's scary and wonderful how we will be scattered. We will all be very separated, but I will also know people all over the place.

I plan to attend Carleton College in the fall, and I am considering a biology major, but won't have to declare my major until sophomore year. I will also work this summer at Philmont Scout Ranch.

To future MSMS students, all I can really offer is my best wishes and a few bits of advice you didn't ask for. In no particular order:
1. Work hard.
2. Take advantage of the opportunities you are offered.
3. Recognize when you need help, and ask for it.
4. Don't do anything stupid.
5. Don't forget to have fun and enjoy every moment, because you don't get any of them back.

I know a lot of people have helped me to reach where I am now: teachers, mentors, Scout leaders, friends, parents, family, and so on, so thank you to all of them. I couldn't have done it without you.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

NYLT Day 6

Today was the final day of the course. (Also the first day of a new year.) We packed up our tents and gear, began the day with an assembly at the flagpole, then ate breakfast and got to work on cleaning up camp. Soon, parents began to arrive, and we all ate lunch. Then each patrol gave presentations or performed skits teaching about leadership, before a final ceremony. Then we all went home.
Overall, the course was definitely a challenge for me - in communicating, and in getting along with other people. I feel like there were some times when I stepped up and took the lead, and others when I did not feel invested in my patrol, and did not really care how well we did. Overall, I think the experience was a good one to have, and I hope I have learned something from it.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

NYLT Day 5

Today, New Year's Eve, is the last full day of the course. Tomorrow, we will be preparing to meet our families and go home. Most of today we spend preparing for tonight's outpost camp out, although we also did a few more presentations in the morning. The outpost camp out utilized many of the skills that we had been taught over the previous week.
We still need to work on our skit for tomorrow, but it's difficult to get everyone to focus enough to have a legitimate practice. The course is nearly over, and it has not been easy, but I'm glad I came.

Monday, January 12, 2015

NYLT Day 4

Today, we learned about the EDGE method for teaching, which was pretty familiar for most of us. Our guides demonstrated using the method to teach us how to use a GPS device for geocaching, which we practiced. We also learned about conflict resolution, which was probably the most interesting subject so far.
In the model troop meeting portion of the day, we learned about packing a backpack (for backpacking, not for school. Even Scouting cannot save us from the weight of textbooks). There was also a geocaching challenge. Our patrol was the slowest, but we did not give up and finished the course. The Making Ethical Decisions presentation was the last session for the day, and then the individual patrols had campfires to themselves.
I do wonder what type of Scout this course is designed for - I know it could be good for any Scout, but I think it would be particularly good for crew leaders of high adventure activities, the top three officers in Venturing crews, and patrol leaders in troops. I would be curious to know the age and rank of the Scouts going through the course in councils where the course has been established and successful for a period of time.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

NYLT Day 3

Today, we did sessions on problem-solving and the four phases of team development (forming, storming, norming, and performing). We also did a Round Robin of some different games that reminded me of COPE activities. Unfortunately, we only had a few minutes at each one, and we didn't get to even begin all of them - I wish we had a lot more time for this section of the course.
My patrol set up a tent blindfolded the fastest, and then set up the most of the tent again when we only had five minutes blindfolded to do it. The afternoon consisted of more model meetings, although those did included different patrol games and races. I don't think we won any of those, but it's difficult to keep track sometimes.
We also did sessions about how to apply the leading EDGE to the four phases of team development. I personally feel like this is one of the most useful sessions, especially for a high adventure trip crew leader, but I'm not sure how it could have been used to improve our Philmont experience, even though I know that we definitely could have used some sort of help then.
The last teaching session of the night was servant leadership, led by the scoutmaster, and without even a PowerPoint or a video. It was one of the best-taught sessions of the course. The last part of the day was the Lego challenge. I do wonder if my patrol leader had never seen Legos before, based off how much trouble we had completing the challenge. However, I didn't have to do his job, so I don't know how difficult it may actually be to do the patrol leader's job for this particular challenge.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

NYLT Day 2

On my 2nd day, I got up at 6:30am to be ready for assembly at 7am. We filed in as a patrol for a flag ceremony, and the presentation of a historic flag. Also, the new patrol leaders and assistant patrol leaders for each day were sworn in, and program and service patrols for the day were assigned.
After breakfast, there was a chapel service. This was also an instructional event, as we went over parts to include in a chapel service, the place religion holds in Scouting, and how to make sure that a service was open to all faiths.
The course has a lot of weird time in between sessions - 30 or 45 minutes after each session where nothing is scheduled to happen, and it's pretty boring. I would prefer to go through all our sessions through the day and have a larger block of time at the end of the day to do something fun or relax a bit more, but the timing is set by the national syllabus.
Most of the people taking this course are high school freshmen. There are a few sophomores I think, and I'm the only high school senior (except the ones in the senior staff). I never would have expected just a few years' age difference to make such a distinct difference, but I do feel like it is harder for me to blend in or relate to the rest of the group.
We  did some sessions on goal-setting and planning today, as well as came up with a patrol name. We also held a model leaders' council and model troop meeting. We built pioneering projects. Our patrol won (the first event we have won) with an extremely sturdy, tall, and straight flagpole.
The shower facilities at this camp are pretty terrible. I've never been so thankful for Binachi's bathhouses before; I was taking them for granted.
The last thing we did was watch a movie, before heading back to campsites for bed. Of course, the movie was chosen to go along with the course themes of leadership and teamwork, but it was actually a pretty decent movie as well.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

NYLT Day 1

On the 27th of December, we woke up early. My brother, one of the other boys from my crew, and myself all had to get to Florida by 12pm to begin our first day of National Youth Leadership Training, offered by the Gulf Coast Council at Camp Euchee.
National Youth Leadership Training is sometimes considered "Wood Badge for youth", although it doesn't seem to be quite as intense. It is a prerequisite course for those Scouts who want to take NAYLE (National Advanced Youth Leadership Experience) at Philmont Scout Ranch (or maybe Northern Tier or Florida Sea Base). The course is nationally regulated and has a very specific format and syllabus. In order to take the course, Introduction to Leadership Skills for Troops or Crews is required. Our crew seems to have the only Scouts in the council who have had the prerequisite training, so it was only the three of us from our area.
We were not allowed to have phones or technology for the week, so I do not have any pictures. Once we checked in, we met our patrols. This particular course had four patrols of seven or eight people each. Participants are placed in patrols separate from other members of their unit. My patrol had the one other female participant in it, and our troop guide was also female.
The first activity was an orientation, showing us around camp and allowing us to set up our campsites. Then the sessions began. I believe there was one on communicating effectively, and one on formulating a vision - both a team vision and a personal vision. I don't understand how so many high school freshmen know what they're doing with their futures with such certainty, while I'm about to go to college, and still don't know. Personally, I wasn't able to get very much out of the first night, due to a migraine headache.
There was an instructional campfire that night to open the course before heading to bed. By instructional, I mean that it was an actual campfire, but at the same time we were taught about the components of a good campfire, and how to make a campfire a memorable one.